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On great 19th century Swedish poets.

Swedish poetry is probably of world class. But since its qualities seldom--as with all poetry--can cross language boundaries, it is not very well-known beyond these. The music of the verses, the original and stunning metaphors in the stanzas, are bound to stay within the confines of the Swedish language. This essay however, is an attempt so mediate some of its charms, mainly focusing on five great Swedish poets from the 19th century--Esaias Tegner, Erik Johan Stagnelius, Gustaf Froding, Verner von Heidenstam and Erik Axel Karlfeldt. This quintet represents two of the golden ages in Swedish poetry--the two first, Tegner and Stagnelius, belongs to the so called romantic era (1809 1830), from the beginning of the century, the three mentioned thereafter, Froding, Heidenstam and Karlfeldt belongs to the so called national romantic era, from the close of the century (ca. 1889 1915)

The first golden age, the Romantic era, is but a facet of the great Romantic movement in Europe, mainly stemming from the important Romantic movement ill Germany, characterized by its philosophical turn, above all its enhancing of the qualities in the human mind, giving priority to the mind's ability to form the apprehension of the world. Simply put, the dichotomy subject-object, or mind-reality, was to a great extent thought of as either dominated by the subject construing this reality through language and imagination (German "Einbildungskraft"), or as a dialectic between this mind and the reality. Secondly, the world was thought of as twofold, dualistic: the ordinary, everyday world was a mere bleak reflection of a higher one--this was sometimes conceived of in religious terms, sometimes in more abstract, philosophical terms--the realm of the spirit. These ideas--combined with the breaking up from the ancient rules of poetry--gave an immense weight to the poet and his poems: these were thought of as stemming from a higher sphere, or giving insights into man's innermost, deepest life, or man's destiny. The poet was more or less equal to the prophet and the priest.

The breaking up from the ancient rules of poetry, meant that great creative energies was liberated, and in some cases--only a few, to be sure--this liberation produced splendid poems. Esaias Tegner (1782 1846) is one of Sweden's great metaphor-makers; in his brilliant, luminous metaphors one can detect a truly imaginative talent, sometimes reminding one of Shakespeare's.

Tegner was at first professor in Greek at Lund University, then (1824) he was appointed bishop in Vaxjo, both in the southern part of Sweden. He was gifted with a sharp intellect and witty, this sometimes bordering on maliciousness, but also endowed with a turbulent emotional life, resulting in the end in psychic disorder, on the verge on mental illness. Though he was an excellent teacher, a competent administrator and a very efficient bishop, he nevertheless once confessed "I really only lived when I sang"[ "Egentligt levde jag blott da jag kvad"]. He wrote poems about the ecstasy felt when entering the poet's winged chariot, and he managed to convey something of the mightiness and the uncanniness of the empty space before time had entered our world in the poem "The Fire"[ "Elden"] from 1805 (The spelling here and in all the quotations in Swedish has been modernized):
   Eternity, like a snake in coils
   laying brooding with black wings
   on worlds not yet begotten.
   The tent of space was not put up
   for time had not begun to leap,
   and its watch was still.

   Evigheten, lik en orm i ringar,
   lag och ruvade med svarta vingar
   uppa varldar, icke annu till.
   Rymdens talt lag ouppspant. For tiden
   var ej annu nagon stund forliden,
   och dess ur stod still. (Tegner 13)


Tegner's most famous poem, still read in Sweden today, is a poem about a deep depression, probably written around 1825, "Spleen"["Mjaltsjukan"]. All the things

Tegner had hitherto enjoyed and cherished--poetry, memory, hope, reality itself--had suddenly become sullied, had withered, had been changed into something strange and almost literally depressing. In expressive and striking metaphors Tegner manages to mediate the psychic pain that is depression, verging on suicide;
   Then rose a dismal goblin, and the
   Set fast into my heart his sudden teeth
   And lo, that instant, all was bleak and hollow,
   The sun and all the stars went out fortwith:
   My happy view lay darkling, autum-yellow,
   Each stalk was bent, each thicket dull in death.
   All vigor in my frozen senses died
   And courage withered there, and joy beside

   For me what message in that leaden, muddly
   Reality, spread lifeless to my view?
   How Hope was faded, ah, the apple-ruddy!
   How Memory clouded, ah, the peacock-blue!
   And Verse itself! Its tightrope-walking study,
   Its somersaults, have palled upon me too
   They do not satisfy, these tricks and patter
   Skimmed off the surface of impassive matter

   A vivid mark, by God's own finger written
   Why had I paid no heed to it before?
   A stench goes through our life, of something rotten
   That taints our spring and summer to the core
   That stench is of the grave, 'tis sure and ceratin,
   The grave's walled up and marble guards the door,
   But oh! corruption rots the living spirit
   Goes everywhere, the watch cannot secure it

   What of the night, thou watchman-nearly over?
   How much is left? or will it have no end
   The moon, half-eaten, glides and glides forever
   The sad-eyed stars wend on and never wend;
   My pulse ticks on with all its youthful fervor
   But Anguish drives the swifter second-hand
   And draws each pulsebeat long with endless hurt
   0 my consumed, my leeched and bloodless heart!
   (Swedish Book Review 102)

   Da steg en mjaltsjuk svartalf opp, och plotsligt
   bet sig den svarte vid mitt hjarta fast:
   och se, pa en gang allt blev tomt och odsligt,
   och sol och stjarnor morknade i hast:
   mitt landskap, nyss sa glatt, lag morkt och hostligt,
   lund blev, var blomsterstangel brast.
   All livskraft dog I mitt forfrusna sinne,
   Allt mod, all gladje vissnade darinne.

   Vad vill mig verligheten med sin doda,
   Sin stumma massa, tryckande och re?
   Hur hoppet bleknat, ack det rosenroda!
   Hur minnet mulnat, ack det himmelsbla!
   Och sjalva dikten! Dess lindansarmoda
   Dess luftsprang har jag sett mig matt uppa.
   Dess gyckelbilder tillfredsstalla ingen
   Losskummade fran ytan utav tingen.

   Ett laslight marke av Guds finger skrivet
   Vi gav jag forr ej pa den skylten akt?
   Det gar en liklukt genom manskolivet,
   Forgiftar varens luft och sommarns praft.
   Den lukten ar ur graven, det ar givet:
   Grav muras till, och marmorn stalls pa vakt.
   Men ack, forruttnelse ar livets anda,
   Stangs ej av vakt, ar over allt tillhanda.

   Sag mig, du vaktare, vad natten lider?
   Tar det da aldrig nagot slut darpa?
   Halvatne manen skrider jamt och skrider,
   Gratogda stjarnor ga alltjamt och ga
   Min puls slar fort som I min ungdoms tider,
   Men plagans stunder hinner han ej sla.
   Hur lang, hur andlos ar vart pilsslags smarta!
   O mitt fortarda, mitt forblodda hjarta!
   (Gustafsson Svensk dikt 281-282)


Tegner's equal, nay, his superior as a poet, was the enigmatic Erik Johan Stagnelius (1793 1823). Son of a vicar, later bishop, he grew up on the small island in the Baltic, Oland, in a beautiful, idyllic landscape, now and then casting a shimmering glimpse on the dark images in his poems. In the beautiful poem "Necken" [ "Nacken"] (probably from his last years) Stagnelius gives a picture of the spirit of the water, "Necken", placed in a serene setting, in a calm and beauteous evening, fragrant and glimmering. Though he sings the most beautiful songs, the "Necken" is condemned, is disowned by God, says the child, listening to his songs:
   Golden clouds at eve are glancing
   Elves upon the heath are dancing,
   And the leave-crowned Necken ever
   Rings his harps in the silver river

   Lo! a lad where trees are sighing
   In the violet's vapor lying,
   Hears the sound the waters weave in
   Night, and calls through quiet even

   "Poor old minstrel, wherefore chanting?
   Will not sorrows cease their haunting?
   Though thou field and wood enliven
   Still by God thou art not forgiven

   Paradise's moonlit shadows,
   Eden's flower-crowned meadows
   Angels high, whose light enfold them
   Will thine eyes no more behold them?"

   Tears the old man's face are laving
   Down he dives in the waters waving
   While his harp grows still and never
   Sings again in the silver river.
   (Peterson 83)

   Kvallens gullmoln fastet kransa
   alvorna pa angen dansa,
   och den bladbekronta nacken
   gigan ror i silverbacken.

   Liten pilt bland strandens pilar
   i violens anga vilar,
   klangen hor fran kallans vatten,
   ropar i den stilla natten:

   "Arma gubbe! Varfor spela?
   Kan det smartorna fordela?
   Fritt du skog och mark ma liva,
   skall Guds barn dock aldrig bliva!

   Paradisets manskensnatter,
   Edens blomsterkronta slatter,
   ljusets anglar i det hoga Will
   aldrig skadar dem ditt oga. "

   Tarar gubbens anlet skolja,
   ned han dykar i sin bolja.
   Gigan tystnar. Aldrig nacken
   spelar mer i silverbacken.
   (Gustafsson Svensk dikt 327-328)


The music (the rhythm, the melody) of this poem is impossible to convey in a translation, likewise the exquisite metaphors and images. Though Stagnelius mastered the prosodic elements of the Swedish language, and managed to form these fine metaphors, he is never syntactically convoluted, his sentences are simple and clear.

He was an ardent student of theology and philosophy, and was extremely well read in the so called gnostic theology, a Christian heretic movement from c. AD 100 300. Here he found figures and narratives of a strange and colourful character that he used in his poems, likewise he there found an apprehension of the world that obviously fitted him: the romantic dualism was here sharpened to its extreme. Our daily life is but a life of misery, disappointments, trials and suffering, our task is to liberate us from the fetters of desire. The paradox is that no Swedish poet before or after Stagnelius has created such luminous, sensuous pictures of the temptations, beauties of this world, as he has. Even death, the annihilation, he depicts, in his most famous poem, "To Putrefaction"["Till Forruttnelsen"], as a sensual experience, a sexual intercourse. In this poem he makes mastery use of the old Amor Mors (Love Death) motif, he expands the sensual aspects of the motif, by concentrating on the double meaning of the grave, it is both a couch and the last lair:
   Putrefaction, hasten, Oh beloved bride,
   to ready our lonely lover's couch!
   By the world rejected, by God set aside
   thou art my only hope, 1 vouch.
   Quick ! our chamber now adorn

  --on bier of somber decorations
   the sighing lover to your dwelling shall go.
   Quick ! Prepare the bridal bed
  --soon springtime's gift of new carnations
   shall over her grow.

   Caress in thy womb my body, which yearns!
   In thine embraces smother my pain!
   My thoughts and my feelings dissolve into worms,
   of my burning heart let but ashes remain!
   Rich art thou, o maid!--in dowry dost give
   the vast, the verdurous earth to me.
   Up here do 1 suffer, but happy shall live
   down there with thee.

   To stifling, enchanting realms of desire
   black-velvet pages lead bridegroom and bride.
   Our nuptial hymn chiming bells will attire
   and curtains of green will both of us hide.
   When out on the oceans tempests prevail,
   when terrors will not bloodied earth release,
   when battles are raging, in slumber we'll sail
   in aureate peace.
   (Gustafsson Forays 35)

   Forruttnelse, hasta, o alskade brud,
   att badda vart ensliga lager
   Forskjuten av varlden, forskjuten av Gud
   blott dig till forhoppning jag ager
   Fort, smycka var kammar

  --pa svartkladda baren
   den suckande alskarn din boning skall na.
   Fort, tillred var brudsang.
   med nejlikor varen
   skall henne besa.

   Slut omt i ditt skote min smaktande kropp!
   Forkvav i ditt famntag min smarta.
   1 maskar los tanken och kanslorna opp,
   i aska mitt brinnande hjarta!
   Rik ar du, o flicka!--i hemgift du giver
   den stora, den gronskande jorden at mig.
   Jag plagas haruppe, men lycklig jag bliver
   darnere hos dig.

   Till vallustens ljuva, fortrollande kvalm
   oss svartkladda brudsvenner folja-.
   Var brollopssang ringes av klockornas malm
   och grona gardiner oss dolja.
   Nar stormarna ute pa varldshavet rada,
   nar fasor den blodade jorden bebo,
   nar fejderna rasa, vi slumra dock bada
   i gyllene ro.

   (Gustafsson Svensk dikt 314-315)


Stagnelius died young, only 30 years of age, and we know little about his life and experiences, the things we think we know of him, are deduced from his poems. But though he lived isolated and poor, he was, after his death, immediately acknowledged as the great poet he was, and his poems were published 1824 26, by a friend of him, and with the help of his father. Now he is one of the greatest Swedish poets.

The years between this golden age and the next one, the national romantic era, of the years ca. 1889 1914, did not see such great poets as Tegner and Stagnelius, though there were two, Viktor Rydberg (1828 1895) and Carl Snoilsky (1841 -1903), both of whom wrote some very fine poems. Rydberg continued the romantic line, actually being the last of the Swedish Romantic poets; Snoilsky was an extremely skillful poet, mastering the difficult sonnet.

But the next generation of Swedish poets, of whom the three masters were Verner von Heidenstam (1859 1940), Gustaf Froding (1860 1911) and Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1864 1931), was to form an incredible time of poetic prosperity. The common denominator of this generation was regionalism, bred by an acute awareness of the deep changes Sweden was experiencing when now, during the second half of the 19th century, entering the industrial era. This experience fostered a strong sense of something vanishing forever, namely the old Sweden, the strong cultural identities of different regions in the then mainly agricultural old society. The three poets developed different attitudes towards the rapid changes, but they all conveyed a strong sense for times gone by, for the traditions--artistic, historical or ethnic, i. e. the culture of the peasants. In Sweden the peasants were not to a small degree a comparatively powerful and important social class.

This generation also reacted towards the then reigning realism in literature-this generation sensed that beauty, fantasy and joy was part of literature's commission, its task not only being that of showing and discussing social problems and political issues, such as deep social injustices, women's slavery or lack of democracy. The most manifest anti-realist poet was von Heidenstam, a born aristocrat, who in 1889 published a pamphlet, "Renaissance"[ "Renassans"], aiming at--as he saw it-realism's tediousness, its lack of beauty and joy. His finest poems are the shorter ones, mainly published in New Poems [Nya dikter ] from 1915. Here von Heidenstam's talent for the aphoristic form and the wisdom of the aphorism is displayed, as in the following poem, about man, about humanness:
   Marvel above all marvels,
   High, unfathomable great marvel!
   The "wolf's chasm was not your home,
   Nor the dark sea's abyss.
   You were born to wander
   In the golden play of man
   Brother, sister, thou who still
   Walk your way on starry earth
   Short is life's journey and night is falling,
   Still, be content and filled with mirth!
   Fight on the day of struggle, play on the day of rest!

   [...]

   And when your white head sinks,
   Praise the marvel, that you were born
   A human, godlike,
   Marvel above all marvels! (2)

   Under over alla under,
   hoga, outgrundligt stora!
   Ulvens klyfta blev ej ditt hem-,
   ej det morka havets djup.
   Fodd blev du att vandra
   i den gyllene manniskoleken.
   Broder, syster du som- an
   gar din fard pa jordens stjarna,
   kort ar livets vag och kvallen snar,
   blid och glatt fornojsam anda var.
   Strid pa stridens dag och lek pa vilans!

   och nar vitt ditt huvud sjunker,
   prisa undret, att du foddes
   manniskogestaltad, gudalik,
   undret over alla under!

   (Gustafsson Svensk dikt 465)


All the poets in this generation wrote poems about nature, about nature's gift to man: here man could find peace, beauty and comfort. In the poem "The Hour of Paradise" ["Paradisets timma"], von Heidenstam gives a picture of nature as it presents itself in the summer (which is very short in Sweden) and very early in the morning, when no one is awake--except the poet--this is the hour of paradise, the hour of earth's creation;
   Oh, meadow! Let flower's chalices glimmer
   Around the fairy's light-winged heel!
   .Oh, hour of paradise!
   Pour dew into our souls!
   Still birds are singing and rejoicing
   Around the sounds, bright at dawn
   As clear as the first of days
   When time began to leap. (3)

   Du ang, lat kalkar glimma
   kring alvans latta hal!
   Du paradisets timma,
   din dagg gjut i var sjal!
   an jublar fagelsangen
   kring gryningsliusa sund
   sa klar som forsta gangen
   i tidens forsta stund.

   (Gustafsson Svensk dikt 465)


Nature was also a dominant theme in Gustaf Froding's poems--he is, together with

Stagnelius, probably the most skillful poet in the Swedish language, handling language's all aspects--its words, its prosody, its syntax--with an unequalled skill in the strict forms of traditional poetry. He was the son of a foundry proprietor, the foundry and the country estate situated in the western part of Sweden, in a beautiful province, filled with lakes, mountains, rivers and forests. In the poem "A lovely day"[ "Vackert vader"], published in his first collection of poems, Guitar and Accordion [Guitarr och dragharmonika] from 1891, this nature forms the background to the story in the poem, a story about an unsuccessful courting;
   A clear sky above the lake,
   all basks in summer's heat,
   and Haga's farm bell calling out
   at one o' clock its strident beat.
   The church at Brunnskog stood there bright,
   a farmer's bride, so fresh and white
   Above the birches on the Berga height
   much like the hat-veil on a lovely lady
   a cloud was floating light,

   [...]

   Like long-ships fully dressed there swam
   Lake Vermeln's holms in turn
   the spruce's song across the prow,
   across the thwart the alder's sough,
   and pine-trees'sighs across the stern.
   (Froding The Selected Poems 25-26)

   Klar lag himlen over viken,
   solen stekte hett,
   och vid Haga ringde Hagas
   galla vallingklocka ett.
   Brunnskogs kyrka stod och lyste
   Som en bondbrud, grann och ny.
   over bjorkarne vid Berga
   som ett hattflor pa en herrgardsfroken
   svavade en sky.

   [...]

   och som hogtidskladda langskepp
   summo Varmelns holmar fram,
   over staven susa granar,
   alar susa over' toft
   tallar over akterstam.

   (Froding Samlade dikter 114-115)


Gustaf Froding's mother, Emilia, was a very gifted woman, and her son obviously inherited her talent for writing verses. But from her and also from his father, Froding also inherited a melancholy temper, which led to periods of depression, even psychic disorder. The times, the second half of the 19* century, were hard on his family, the economy of the estate and the foundry was constantly worsening, partly on account on an economic depression, partly on account of the father's inability to handle the economic crisis. So Froding experienced himself, his family and his class as remnants from times past. In the poem "A gazelle"[ "En ghasel"] (also from the first collection) Froding expresses his sense of being outside a normal life, the ordinary way of life--this feeling he formed in the very rigid stanza of the Persian gazelle, where one word or one phrase is repeated in the end of each verse:
   I am looking at the world out through the bans,
   I can't, I do not want to leave the bars,
   it is so good to see how life goes round,
   see its waves come surging ' gainst the bars,
   so madly gay and tempting is the sound
   when laughs and song come floating through the bars.

   [...]

   There is a crowd of boats and happy steamers,
   and brassy music and romantic dreamers.
   Yes, lots of happy people stroll out there,
   and talk and breathe the lovely morning air.
   I must get out, 1 must, 1 want to play
   a drink of life, if only for a day--
   don' t let me suffocate behind the bars!

   In vain, in vain the hateful bars I shake,
   the unforgiving, steely hard old bars.
   They will not stretch, they will not give or break,
   for there, inside myself, the bars are wrought,
   and only when 1 break, the bars will break.
   (Froding The Selected Poems 32-33)

   Jag star och ser pa varlden genom gallret;
   jag kan, jag vill ej slita mig fran gallret,
   det ar sa skont att se, hur livet sjuder
   och kastar hoga boljor upp mot gallret,
   sa smartsamt glatt och lockande det ljuder,
   nar skratt och sanger komma genom gallret.

   Det vimlar batar dar och angare
   med hornmusik och muntra sangare
   och glada manniskor i tusental,
   som draga ut till fest i berg och dal;
   jag vill, jag vill, jag skall, jag maste ut
   och dricka liv, om blott for en minut,
   jag vill ej langsamt kvavas bakom gallret!

   Forgaves skall jag boja, skall jag rista
   det gamla, obevekligt harda gallret
  --det vill ej tanja sig, det vill ej brista,
   ty i mig sjalv ar smitt och nitat gallret,
   och forst nar sjalv jag krossas, krossas gallret.

   (Gustafsson Svensk dikt 478)


Froding always had an eye for the weak and gentle, people that arevery sensitive and easily hurt, people that are: exploited by the mighty he wrote poems about poor, suppressed people, about men being sweated in the foundry, about young women being victims to prejudice and envy in the poem, "Sigh, sigh, willows!"["Sav, sav, susa!"] in New Poems [ Nya dikter] from 1894, about a young girl that drowned herself, probably on account of her giving birth to a so called illegitimate child, fruit of a forbidden love, he expresses his pity for her fate in beautiful, melodic stanzas, formed after a mediaeval poem, where the melodic and laconic expressions reign:
   Sing, willows, sing,
   the billows are rolling,
   tell me where Inga
   young maiden is strolling!

   She cried like a wingbroken bird,
   when she sank in the lake.
   It was when spring was about to awake.

   They bore her grudge at Vesterbylid.
   She had a great sorrow indeed.

   They bore her a grudge for land and for gold,
   they hated her love, it was young and bold.

   They prickled an eyeball with thorn,
   they stained a lily's dew with scorn.

   So sing, yes sing your sad song,
   your rippling little billows,
   Sing, billows, sing,
   Sigh, sigh, willows !
   (Froding The Selected Poems 45-46)

   Sav, sav, susa,
   vag, vag, sla,
   I sagen mig var Ingalill
   I den unga mande ga?

   Hon skrek som en vingskjuten and,
   nar hon sjonk i sjon.
   Det var nar sista var stod gron.

   De voro henne gramse vid ostanalid
   det tog hon sig sa illa vid.

   De voro henne gramse for gods och gull
   och for hennes unga karleks skull.

   De stucko en ogonsten med tag,
   sde kastade smuts i en liljas dagg.

   Sa sjungen, sjungen sorgsang,
   I sorgsna vagor sma,
   sav, sav, susa,
   vag, vag, sla.!
   (Gustafsson Svensk dikt 484)


The last poet of the three masters, Erik Axel Karlfeldt, also came from the rural parts of Sweden, from the famous province of Dalecarlia, characterized by a very strong and colourful cultural tradition of the peasants. The feudal system never came to this part of Sweden, hence there are no aristocratic families or estates in this province (and the regions north of it). But Karlfeldt, stemming from these strong-willed and self-confident Dalecarlian peasants, also conceived of himself, like Froding, as a stranger in life, an outcast even. This was due to his father once being sentenced for embezzlement, and on account of this, being forced to abandon his estate. The young Karlfeldt experienced this as, which it de facto was, a social catastrophe, and also affecting him, not only economically. But as a poet he took revenge, and ended up as not only a member of the Swedish Academy, but also as its influential Secretary. His poems are, as are von Heidenstam's and Froding's, extremely formally skillful, and also, on account of his frequent use of old Swedish words, words from the old culture of the Dalecarlian peasants, very difficult to translate. His great themes are love and death, steeped in old forms and in the old language. His rhymes are probably the most intricate in the traditional Swedish poetry, his sense of the rhythm is equal to Froding's, and his metaphors equal those of Tegner's.

He was the youngest of the three, and while Froding died already in 1911, and von Heidenstam published his last work already in 1915, Karlfeldt continued to publish during the years after the Great War (1914 18). His last collection of poems, The Horn of Autumn [Hosthorn from 1927, contains his most loved poem, still read, truly a masterpiece, called "The Winter Organ"[ "Vinterorgel"]. It is a long poem, and on the surface it depicts the winter entering our world. Karlfeldt tells this story in the form of a great metaphor, namely the winter is building an organ, and the landscape, the forests are transferred into a huge, mighty organ. The poem begins with a vision of autumn, when everything is dark and threatening, and here Karlfeldt conceives of autumn's landscape as a temple, whose vaults are dark and low, and he addresses this autumn in form of an apostrophe to the first of November, a day always called All Saint's Day [Allhelgonadagen], the day of death and darkness:
   Your temple is dark and your vault is low,
   Day of All Saints!
   There summer's hymn dies down as a tremble
   Of tolling bells.
   And her mantle tears the blackened sky,
   And pallied rags of the groves flies away
   And night chants of all that is dead
   All flesh, all hay! (4) allt ho, allt kott.

   Ditt tempel ar morkt och lagt ar dess valv,
   Allhelgonadag!
   Dar slocknar sommarens hymn som ett skalv
   av klamtande slag.
   Sin mantel river den svarta sky,
   och lundarnas bleknade trasor fly,
   och natten massar om allt som ar dott,

   (Gustafsson Svensk dikt 526)


Here Karlfeldt is close to symbolism, that European tradition that develops the idea of the symbol--stemming from the Romantic movement--especially symbols from nature. The symbol is, due to this tradition, able to express a multitude of meanings, the symbol can assemble different aspects of a hidden truth, impossible to express in ordinary words--only the symbol can accomplish this. The symbol in this poem is of course the organ, built by the winter, and played by a great organ-player, an enigmatic figure in the poem, an artist, a musician, once producing a wonderful tone from the stars above:
   Once in a while when dawn is watching
   a "whistling from star's breath can be heard,
   one tone alone, one clear as glass
   a "wonderful one. (5)

   det susar ibland intill gryningens vakt,
   som stjarnornas lugna andedrakt,
   en enda ton, en glasigt klar.,
   och underbar.

   (Gustafsson Svensk dikt 528)


This poem and this collection of poems from 1927, forms the end of this golden age in Swedish poetry--and also, one can say, the end of traditional, metric poetry. This age, and also its predecessor, the Romantic age, has given to the Swedish culture a heritage worth preserving, and for certain, the quality of these two golden ages, has played an important role since, setting standards for generations to come. In a dialectical manner, these two golden ages also have given the modernist poets a high standard to revolt against, hence inciting them to surpass the great masters. Thus, the Swedish Modernist lyric is, possibly and partly due to this contest between generations , also of a very high quality. Last, but not least, these masters rendered the poet's task and figure a very prestigious position in Swedish culture.

Works Cited

Froding, Gustaf. Samlade dikter. Stockholm; Wahlstrom och Widstrand, 1984.

--: The Selected Poems qf Gustaf Froding. Trans. Henrik Aspan in collaboration with Martin Allwood. Walnut Creek, Ca; Eagleye Books International, or Mullsjo; Persona Press, 1993.

Gustafsson, Lars. ed. Forays into Swedish Poetry. Trans. Robert T. Rovinsky. Austin & London; Univ. of Texas Press, 1978.

--.ed. Svensk dikt-. Fran trollformler till Lars Noren. Stockholm; Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1978. Peterson, Frederick. Poems and Swedish Translations. Buffalo, New York; Paul & Bro., 1883. Swedish Book Review 1986/2. Lampeter; SELTA, 1986.

Tegner, Esaias. Lyriska dikter i urval. Stockholm; Bonniers, 1927.

Notes

(1-5). These are the author's translations.

Eva Haettner Aurelius

Faculties of Humanities and Theology, Centre for Language and

Literature, Comparative

Literature, Lund University

SOL-centrum. Box 201, S-221 00 Lund, Sverige

Email; eva.haettner_aurelius@litt.lu.se
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Title Annotation:Esaias Tegner, Erik Johan Stagnelius, Verner von Heidenstam, Gustaf Froding and Erik Axel Karlfeldt
Author:Aurelius, Eva Haettner
Publication:Forum for World Literature Studies
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUSW
Date:Aug 1, 2012
Words:4722
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